For the Denver Broncos, the 2010 season was one to forget. What was historically the worst season in franchise history, the Broncos saw the firing of a head coach, an abundance of injuries, a defense in shambles, and a quarterback controversy, all of which resulted in a lowly 4-12 record on the year. If they didn’t have enough problems already, they also must enter a very important off-season with uncertainty, due to the labor dispute and arguments over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association.
The Denver Broncos have many issues to address before the start of the 2011 season (whenever that may be) and they are probably very hesitant on what decisions to make regarding key matters. One thing they can’t afford to do however, is make a lot of mistakes.
If you asked a Broncos fan for the definition of the word “mistake”, they wouldn’t reach for a dictionary to show you what it means, but they would find the closest picture of Josh McDaniels to show you what it looks like. McDaniels made plenty of blunders while he was head coach of the Denver Broncos, probably none more so than shipping the teams best talent out of town. Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and Peyton Hillis are some of the names that have flourished since leaving Denver, and McDaniels’ poor people skills and bad decision making is the main reason those talents aren’t being showcased for the Broncos now. In hindsight, it’s easy to see that McDaniels was not ready to be a head coach or shoulder the responsibilities that were put on him.
After his firing, the Broncos attempted to start cleaning up the mess McDaniels left behind, and they started by making two very good decisions in naming veteran head coach John Fox as his replacement and hiring legendary quarterback John Elway as the team’s Executive Vice President of Football Operations. Fox will bring much needed maturity and stability to the team that will pay dividends in the future, and Elway has shown in his new position his love for the organization and his desire to bring the team back to contention. The hiring of these men were the Broncos way of trying to counter some of the errors made by McDaniels, and to start laying a new foundation for the house that was torn down. The partnership has already paid off in the short amount of time the two men have been with the organization, with the re-signing of All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey recently taking place. Not pursuing a new deal to keep Bailey in Denver would have been the first mistake under the new regime, but John and John made sure that next season would not be one without the 10-time Pro Bowler in a blue and orange uniform.
The Broncos’ hands are tied when it comes to free agency and trades this off-season, because like every other team in the NFL, they cannot make many personnel moves until a new CBA is reached. That leaves only one thing they can really concentrate on to help make the team better, the NFL Draft. The Broncos currently hold the second overall pick and two second round picks in the 2011 draft, as well as one pick in each of the remaining five rounds. With these eight picks as ammunition, the Broncos must use their bullets wisely, and shoot for the best targets. The players the Broncos take in this years NFL Draft need to be as close to “sure things” as possible, and the team certainly can’t afford to pick any potential busts.
If and when a new CBA is reached and normal transactions can be made, the Denver Broncos must be careful on any player moves they make. If the team decides to trade a player, they should have another player on the team at that position that is ready to take the spot and contribute right away. The same goes with any players that are released. If the Broncos decide to bid on or sign a free agent, they better be sure that the player is worth whatever they are asking to be paid, and that they will be an asset to the team instead of a hindrance.
What lies ahead for the Denver Broncos and what decisions they will make in the immediate future is now the question. Whatever decisions are made, each one could make or break the team. It’s unfortunate however that what may be the teams most important off-season ever to try to make improvements, may be their most trying one.
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